In which we attend the Bare Bones ride, my bum is sore and I learn stuff

When we rolled in to the Bare Bones ridecamp on the day before the ride, the sky was clear and the temps were warm...just like the day before the ride last year.

Blue sky and a caravan of rigs

Those of us who attended the ride last year were unconvinced.  All weekend I saw people squinting up at the sky, wondering if it was going to fall on us like it did on ride day in 2011.

It didn't.  At least, there wasn't any rain.
Cowboy Jim and the floofs, hiding from the heat
There was, instead, a lot of HEAT.  Anything above 80 degrees F is hot to a Swamplander.  The temperature in camp was above 90, and the humidity was high.  Ugh.  The afternoon before the ride, we mostly hid in the shade (and squinted at the sky).

Just before dusk, we rounded up some cover models for the Endurance 101 book!  Monica has been shooting people for a couple of months, collecting images for the book, but we didn't have an image we liked for the she staged one.
Monica and the cover models
I took pictures of her taking pictures.  This isn't the final image for the cover, but it's a tantalizing hint.  More details soon.

Ride morning:
Beautiful morning light on the trail
No rain in sight.   However, instead of a Plague of Rain, we had several Plagues of Bugs.
That "blip" at 11:00 isn't dirt on the camera lens:
it's an insect.
For comparison, the grey horse is 15.3 hands tall.
Closeup of a "hellifly", coming in for a landing. 
We seriously could not exaggerate the size of these bugs
In the forest, temps were cooler, the shade was lovely, and the bugs were not as buggy.
Speckled light
This trail has a lot of bridge crossings. 
Fiddle doesn't trust handrails.  She says they are sneaky.

Fee crosses bridges routinely, but she positions her ears flat as we cross, directing those handrails to stay where they are and don't come any closer.  She's very good at this:  the handrails didn't budge.

More pretty on the trail:
Pretty but hot: afternoon temps in the mid-90's through the clearcuts

Travel fast, outrun bugs
We were always glad to pop out of the woods and onto a water stop.  The guy in the jeep (below) is a Ham radio operator.

He offered to take pictures of riders with their own cameras.  Neat!
The water was the cause of my sore bum.  Last year at this ride, my bum got wet in the drenching rain, and I was glad to be awarded a container of Lady Anti-Monkey-Butt powder, because wet skin + wet breeches + 50 miles of posting the trot = some ugly chafing.

This year, it didn't rain...but it was so hot that I wore my hydration cooling vest, which gets soaked in water to keep me cool. 

The problem is that water drips. 

From my vest. 

Into my breeches. 

Onto my bum.  My bum that needed to execute the rise-and-fall motion of a posting trot for about 10 hours to get this event finished....

I used a bunch of the Anti-Monkey-Butt powder, but I've still got a lovely chafed bum that I'm happy to show to anyone who enquires.   Remarkably, there have been few requests for this.

We just kept trotting.  That's what endurance riders do, after all.

Hazards on the trail were mostly other people:
Lurking two-wheeled predator at 3:00. 
Fee has one ear on the predator and one ear on me,
waiting for the signal to engulf him in flames.
Fee just about swallowed two bicyclists who came bombing down a trail with heads down and earbuds in, oblivious to the DRAGON trotting up towards them.  Many of the bikers were very nice.  A few were just dumb.  Death is too good for them, Fee says.

We tail-end finished the ride with about 30 minutes to spare. 

As always, heat and humidity are very difficult for my horse.  I carried two "squirt bottles" on my saddle to dump on her as we travel, and kept her wet most of the day.  Even so, her pulse "hung" for almost 30 minutes after we got to camp--not the longest hanging pulse in camp (by far) under the conditions, but long enough to make me worry.
The Pretty goes on for miles up here
To cool her down and calm her heartrate, we stood her under a hose (wow!  a hose!  in a ridecamp!  such luxury!) and soaked and scraped her skin continually while she stuffed her maw with hay, grass, and carrots.  Sky, Jim, Sirie, and our friends Becky and Darlene took turns with the hose and the stethoscope.

When she finally pulsed down and was examined by the vet, her scores were all A's and B's.  Whew. 

What did I learn?
Fiddle is an outstanding athlete, and although she's not as fit as she was at this ride last year (since we took time off this spring for surgery), she is plenty fit for the distance.  Our biggest obstacle for her is heat/humidity.  She's so big and so dark that she doesn't disperse heat easily.  Hot-dry rides aren't a huge problem.  Multi-day work isn't a problem.  Steep rocky trails, deep sandy trails and wet mucky trails aren't a problem.

However, hot-humid rides are difficult for her, and I need to ride those carefully and continue to "manage" her cooling.

Unfortunately, Tevis (which I want to do someday) is sometimes a hot-humid ride.

I haven't crossed it off of the "eventual" calendar, but I might have to wait for another horse to do that particular event.   Dang!

On the bright side:  my horse is young, she is fit, she is fun, and she didn't eat anybody all weekend.

I call that a successful ride.


  1. I hear you on cooling at the hot and humid rides! 30 mins is worrisome, glad she got A's when she came down. Congrats on another finish!

  2. Yay Fiddle! And thanks for the photos and ride story--its fun for those of us who don't do endurance to get a glimpse of what its like.

  3. Good to read that something other than Tevis happened! ;) That humidity sure can be troublesome, in fact that is something I truly learned crewing for Team Chaton this past weekend. Karen's Bo had a higher pulse than normal at Foresthill due to the rain rolling in and the very high humidity resulting. He was otherwise in great form and eating like a champ but it was very hard to cool him out and get that pulse comfortably down. Definitely an important factor of Tevis to be aware of!

    Great job on a completion and cooling your big, dark beast!

  4. Ya know, it's all your fault I don't want to leave the West Coast. Every time I start to muse that I would be happy ensconsed back in Vermont or Maine with a team of draft horses and a Fjord for Kaeden, I read your blog. I hear about how amazingly well Fiddle is doing and your fun times in ride camp, look longingly at your amazing pictures of the views you get while riding...and a large voice shouts: "Vermont doesn't have that! or THAT!" and I start researching the price of a good horse set up in Oregon, to persuade Tristan to stay here after he becomes a firefighter.
    All your fault, Ms. Pirate Queen! And Dragons too!

  5. You're such a good blogger! I have a total of four pictures from the whole weekend, and all four are blurry pictures of Cartman's ears and green trees:)

    Glad to hear you guys completed, it was really hot by the time I got done at 12:15, I could absolutely not have gone back out again- hats off to the 50 milers!

    1. You and Cartman finished, though? Yes?

      It was a long day. Was glad to have my Dragon!

  6. Glad to hear that you guys finished in good shape at the end. I hear you on the heat and humidity. Humidity seems to suck your will to live, lol.

  7. Love your "story" - bugs were the biggest I'd ever seen! Congratulations on a tough completion!

  8. It's all your fault, Aarene.
    Every time I start thinking I would be happy back east, with a team of draft horses logging in the woods and Kaeden on a sturdy little pony following us around...
    I read your blog, I take in your pictures of beautiful places Fiddle has taken you and hear how well she's doing....I start looking at horse ready places available in Oregon (and Washington) to convince Tristan to stay out West.
    All your fault...and Fiddles too for being so very good at what she does!


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